NEW Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said I could revoke all social distance rules, except the closure of international borders, to restore normal life in his country early next week.

Next Monday, Ardern will decide whether New Zealand is ready to turn to level 1 vigilance, more than two months after he imposed a tight lock on level 4 by shutting down most businesses and forcing citizens to stay home in response to the corona virus pandemic.

According to Ardern, waiting until Monday would allow him to observe whether recent changes, such as the removal of restrictions on the number of people in bars and at social gatherings, have led to an increase in cases.

“If it does not (cause an increase in cases), then we are in a good position to move,” Ardern said in a press conference broadcast on television on Wednesday.

Under level 1 vigilance, there are no rules to maintain physical distance or limit the number of people in places such as bars, clubs, churches, and sports venues.

However, there will be major changes in pre-pandemic normalization, with no immediate plans to open the New Zealand border. The country has not recorded a new case of COVID-19 for 12 consecutive days on Wednesday, and only has one active case.

Ardern’s decision to immediately implement one of the most stringent locking in the world has been praised by inhibiting the spread of COVID-19 in New Zealand, which has reported a total of 1,504 cases and 22 deaths.

Ardern said the focus under level 1 vigilance would shift to basic public health and personal hygiene measures such as regular hand washing, isolation by anyone with flu-like symptoms, and contact tracing.

The government will work with large-scale event organizers to develop voluntary ‘COVID codes’, which will help the authorities to track contacts if needed. [antaranews/photo special]